The present day preoccupation all over the World for keeping
natural areas, free of pollution and with non disturbed wildlife,
resulted in the creation in Peru of different National Parks,
Reserves and Historic Sanctuaries that involve strictly preserved
and protected territories reaching approximately 5'833,648
Has. (58336 Km²; 22524 mile²) representing about
4.54% of the national territory. Inside the Inka region are
the Machupicchu National Historic Sanctuary and the Manu National
Park that all together involve 1'913,792 Has. (19137 Km²;
7389 mile²) that represent 11% of the regional territory.
The Manu National Park was established on may 29, 1973, by
means of Law 0644-73-AG, with the aim of preserving its natural
and cultural patrimony for the benefit of present and future
generations. That same aim determined the recognition by UNESCO
of the Manu Biosphere Reserve that today expands over a territory
of 1'881,200 Has. (18812 Km²; 7263 mile²) in the
provinces of Paucartambo in Qosqo and Manu in Madre de Dios;
from all this protected territory 81.5% belongs to the Core
Zone which is strictly preserved in a natural state, 13.5%
to the Experimental or Buffer Zone that is set aside for controlled
research and tourism, and 5% to the Cultural Zone where there
are human settlements.
In order to get the Manu National Park by road, it is necessary
to depart from Qosqo and follow the dusty road passing through
Huancarane, Paucartambo, Patria, Pilcopata, Atalaya and Salvacion
where the administration office of the Park is found, and
continue through Burgos and finally as far as Shintuya. In
Atalaya or Shintuya there are boats for rent for a day-long
journey following the Alto Madre de Dios River downstream,
passing through the human settlements of Ithahuania, Cruz
de Mayo, Puerto Definitivo and Diamante, until arriving to
Boca Manu which is the Manu and Alto Madre de Dios river junction.
Over here starts the journey following the Manu River upstream
in order to enter into the Park. By air, it is possible to
get the airstrip in Boca Manu in small aircrafts from the
airports in Qosqo or Puerto Maldonado.
Prior to any visit to the Manu Park, you must get information
and authorization given by the Administration of the National
Park which headquarters are in Qosqo City at least three months
in advance (Park Officials do not offer any visitor-handbook
with pertaining recommendations, dangers, restrictions, etc.;
it would be great if they wrote something based on their gathered
experiences since the Park was opened for tourism from 1980.
All that information must be obtained from your travel agent).
The entry farther away than limits of the Reserved Zone in
the Panagua River is allowed only for authorized researchers,
official visitors and scientific tourist groups that apply
for entrance permits at least six months prior to the trip.
Today there is a tourist lodge in the Cocha Juarez zone; in
some other sectors there is nither lodging nor eating substructures
for tourists, thence, visitors must take all the necessary
elements for their subsistence as well as for their transportation
and communication (camping will be necessary). The basic personal
equipment is similar to that given in this book in order to
carry out the Inka Trail towards Machupicchu; nevertheless,
proper information about equipment and required elements will
be given by your agent. As in the whole region, the best time
in order to visit the Park is during our dry season, between
the months of May and September; in the wet season, from October
to April there is a bigger amount of rains and higher temperature
in the woodlands.
The Manu National Park and the Biosphere Reserve are towards
the east of the Eastern Range of the Peruvian Andes, and include
totally the basin of the Manu River and partially that of
the Alto Madre de Dios River. The landscapes involved are
diverse and are found from the Amazonian Plains at 365 mts.
(1,200 ft.) of altitude in Boca Manu, as high as 4,020 mts.
(13,200 ft.) in the Waskar Mountain, with steep and rough
mountains. The altitude difference determines a climate variety
from the hot and humid Amazonian Jungle to the cold and dry
Andean Highlands. Temperature averages vary according to altitude,
thus, in the lower area is about 24° C. (75° F.) and
about 4° C. (39° F.) in the high area. Likewise, the
annual rainfall in the rain forest is over 4,000 mm. (156
inches) while that in the Andean Highlands it drops to 1,000
mm. (39 inches). The hydrographic system is formed by the
rivers that flow down from the Andes; they are torrential
by their sources and quiet in the Amazonian Plains; their
volume vary considerably between the dry and wet seasons.
The Manu River has a reddish color and its meanders with the
successive change of river bed formed the several "cochas"
or ox-bow lakes, that are the main wild fauna environment.
The scientific interest that awakens the Manu Park is based
on its great diversity of flora and fauna species that is
one of the biggest in the world and which is kept almost unchanged
in millions of years of natural evolution. The major research
spot in the Park is the Cocha Cashu Biological Station that
nowadays has the best data bank about the South-American tropical
ecosystem. That station was built in 1969 by professors and
students of the La Molina National Agrarian University after
an agreement with the Frankfurt Zoological Society. Many are
the studies fulfilled in this station that gets annually between
20 to 30 scientists from all over the world; however, the
works carried out are very humble compared to all the possibilities
offered by the Park.
The altitude variations found inside the Park make possible
the existence of an impressive diversity of plant species
and forms; it is estimated that at least about 10% of the
plant species found in the Manu Park are unknown by science.
Over here, it is possible to find basically three ecological
levels: Lowland Rain Forest, Montane Rain Forest and High
Andes. In the Lowland Rain Forest there is always exuberant
vegetation, and gigantic trees that are even 60 mts. high
and are 3 mts. of diameter, from which treetops hang lianas
and creepers that make the floor relatively dark with deep
shade even at midday. Among the different tree species here
are: cedar, mahogany, lupuna, tornillo, renaco, cetico, palm
trees, etc. In the Montane Rain Forest there are smaller trees
with twisted trunks but with even thicker vegetation and an
extraordinary species diversity; the fog and rains enable
abundant existence of lichens, mosses and ferns, and a great
selection of beautiful orchids. The High Andean Zone has also
thinly scattered woodlands with some species like the classic
"q'euña"; besides dense clumps of dwarf reeds
and "ichu" the ever present Andean graminoid. Among
the main flora species of the Park are: